Neighbor dog’s calling

February 17, 2016

I’m trying to love you, Riley, neighbor, as
you try nonstop to woof flip-flop (whip-whop,
hip-hop, rip-rop, bip-bop)—just let me
count the ways—but can’t master that fl.

Your master, Neighbor Pug, absent or deaf
like mine, doesn’t notice your wakefulness,
your dogged practice—Wachet auf,
git-eff, auf-up—or alarming faithfulness

as you lift your voice—ruft uns die Stimme—bow
to the four corners of your echoing fence, ruf-ruf,
and with all your God-given strength, wow
the slip-slop, sleep-sop, ninny-nap neighborhood.

Riley, you remind me that the psalmists
favored repetitions. God has gone up
with a shout, and his dog has raised a refrain
like a trumpet—oh, please refrain—as I lie down

and hope to dream of still waters, lip-lap. Let me
hear your difficult pug breaths more than your din.
As you imitate the difficult humans
who dog me, I could half love you. Could you just breathe in?